Youth Reach
“Reaching kids from The Bay, to the Valley and in Mexico”

YouthReach Newsletter
July 2014

Reflection Blog

by Pastor Steve Newman, FBC Lodi

I am writing today from San Nicolas, a small town in the mountains of coastal Mexico.  I am here partnering with Juan Ibarra, a member of FBC, in his ministry YouthReach.    Juan was born here in San Nicolas de Ibarra, not far from Guadalajara, but moved with his family to the US as a child.  As he grew up, he joined a gang and became a drug dealer at an early age and was quite successful at it.  But something was missing. Juan miraculously  came to Christ through the ministry of Young Life at their Woodleaf Camp (where our men's ministry has been having their annual retreat) and subsequently gave up gangs and drugs.  Juan joined Young Life staff, working for several years in East Palo Alto to reach out to kids with a similar background as his.  He then moved to Lodi with Young LIfe  to do the same kind of work with kids in Lodi and Stockton. 
Four years ago, Juan returned to San Nicolas and purchased a place that had been used for drug dealing.  He cleaned it up and turned it into a youth center, where he reaches out to youth that are on a dead end path.  Most of these kids drop out of school as young teens, the girls get pregnant, and the boys get into drinking and drugs. To reach these kids before it's too late, Juan offers tutoring, sports programs and a youth club.  If they want to participate, the kids have to stay in school, and stay off drugs.  If not, they can't come.   Juan has a large staff of volunteer and minimally paid helpers.  Two of the adult volunteers were deported here from the US after several years in prison for drug charges.  They are clean now and motivated to help.  One of Juan's youth volunteers is a 21 year old single mom trying to finish school.  She brings her six year old daughter to the center with her when her grandmother is not available to help.

In this town of 2500 there are not many options for kids, so they are eager to come for soccer, boxing, baseball, art classes and games.  Some of them help out with the preschool ministry.   Through Juan's program, kids' lives are changing and the people of San Nicholas are noticing.  Some of the kids are coming to Christ, many are staying in school and making better grades, and their attitudes towards life are changing.

I came here to San Nicholas along with Steve Jordan and  David Juarez from Quail Lakes Baptist Church.  Steve has  installed a water purification system so Juan does not have to purchase bottled water, and David has been translating for me.  I have a daily Bible teaching time with the leadership team, about ten adults and teens.  Yesterday afternoon I shared the gospel with about 20 or 25 kids after a soccer game. Last night was  a talk on decision making to a club group. Tonight I will speak to the older boys' boxing group about what it means to be a real man.  In the next couple of days I have opportunities with the girls' group, another club group and a group of families. 
This has been an exciting time and I am glad we at FBC can partner with Juan in this ministry.  He has need of extra funds to 1) add on a couple of rooms to the center and 2) get an already equipped computer lab functional with a part time director. Please join me in prayer for these needs.

Jul 2014

Ministry News!

We are coming off an exciting week as we hosted our pastor Steve Newman from FBC Lodi and volunteers Steve Jordan and David Juarez.  There was a week of ministry leadership training from Pastor Newman as he share in his reflection blog from his week here with YouthReach.  Thank you Pastor Newman and FBC Lodi for your partnership!   

Juan Ibarra

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